History & Mission Statement

Information on the history of Kapiti Coast libraries.

Library vision – what we strive to be

Kāpiti Coast District Libraries are a place where all of the community are welcome to discover and share stories, ideas and information, to build community connections, and to create opportunities for learning and growth.

History of the Libraries

Prior to 1989, the three main libraries in our district were each funded and run by different local bodies. In 1989, the Local Bodies Act was passed and it was at this time that the Ōtaki, Waikanae and Paraparumu libraries were amalgamated under the newly formed Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Paraparaumu Library

In 1929, Paraparaumu's first library started in a cupboard in the Country Women’s Institute rooms. When demand for the service outgrew the cupboard, the CWI rented space in Sid Weggery’s shop on the corner of Hinemoa and Tongoriro Streets. The library remained there until the premises were sold.

After World War II, an army medical hut - from the encampment at McKay’s crossing - was bought to serve as a library. This building was relocated to Dairy Company land on Ruapehu Street and remained there until the dairy factory store was sold.

When a new fire station was built in 1958, the CWI library moved into the old fire station building beside the new one. One last move took it to the area of the old Blue Moon Dairy, now demolished, at Paraparaumu Beach.

Paraparaumu's library was ran on a voluntary basis until December 11, 1972. On that day the Paraparaumu Public Library opened at Coastlands. Its first librarian, James Daley, recorded with gratitude that of its 16,000 volumes, 9000 were gifted by the Paraparaumu Country Women’s Institute.    

In early 1981 the Paraparaumu Library (renamed Kapiti Public Library) moved from Coastlands into the Ngarara Building in Rimu Road, occupying the ground floor of the Council offices.

Due to amalgamation and the growth of the Kapiti Public Library, additions to the Paraparaumu building were made in 1991.Computerisation was completed in 1993, with all three Kāpiti libraries (Paraparaumu, Waikanae and Ōtaki)  linked by an electronic network. Services to the public were further improved through the establishment of an online public access catalogue and establishment of other services such as “Books on Wheels” (later called Housebound Service).

Kapiti Public Library was a popular community facility, but book stock failed to meet recommended levels. It was also foreseen, that as the population grew, the situation would become progressively worse. By 1997, Kapiti Public Library was seriously short of space, new books could not be displayed and conditions for both staff and borrowers were cramped and dangerous.

In 1998 the Council agreed to site a new library to the northwest of the Rimu Road council building. This decision reopened questions about a vision for a town centre - and plans for the new library were temporarily put on hold. In April 2001, councillors voted unanimously for the new library concept plan - with a focus for community pride and awareness. Fletcher Construction recieved the contract to build the new library designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects.

The new Paraparaumu Public Library opened in November 2002.

Awards 2004
Silver Award of Merit

NZIA Supreme Architecture Award
Community & Cultural

NZIA Architecture Award
Community & Cultural

(See "New Zealand Architecture", May/June 2004). 

Waikanae Library

In 1932 the Reikorangi-Waikanae Country Women’s Institute (established in 1929)  decided that a library would be a worthy community project. That same year, a cupboard in the “new school” at Reikorangi became the first  CWI library. The library was open after-school hours with Miss Francis Kent as the first librarian. For most of its history, the Reikorangi-Waikanae Country Women’s Institute Library remained subsription-based and run by voluntary workers.

In 1940 the library was housed in the grocery store in Elizabeth Street, Waikanae. From 1950 to 1953, it operated out of Mr. Perrett’s small shop on the corner of Te Moana Road. Then, in 1953,  the Memorial Hall Committee granted the library space in the Waikanae Memorial Hall. In 1971 the library  moved to a rented shop beside the Memorial Hall.

hp2172 - wAIKANAE mEMORIAL hALL, Ca. 1980

HP913B -  Waikanae Library 1981

Waikanae Library -1981

A new purpose-built and architecturally-designed Waikanae Public Library was opened in September 1977 in the building that Mahara Gallery would later occupy.  Miss Olliver was appointed the first librarian. In 1978, the library employed one full-time and two part-time staff. There was a membership of 2500 persons with stock of about 7000 books on the shelves.

The library was controlled by the Waikanae District Community Council until 1989 when the Local Bodies Act was passed. The new Kapiti Coast District Council then took over. In 1996, the library moved to the former Post Office building which had been completely refurbished. On March 18, the building was blessed by Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai. 

The Library was formally opened on Easter Saturday 6 April 1996, to coincide with Waikanae’s Easter festival. The “Love Stone” sculpture by Bodhi Vincent was unveiled in front of the building - and poet Sam Hunt officially opened the building.

Ōtaki Library

The first library in Otaki was established in 1872 by a committee of Ōtaki citizens.

 In 1896, the library was housed in one of the  classrooms built next to the Native College Hostel on Te Rauparaha Street. The library was then said to contain 1300-1400 volumes and to be managed by a committee of seven.

A fire in 1903 destroyed the Native College Hostel and necessitated the relocation of the library.

Fundraising efforts by the local community saw the establishment of a new library on the site of what is now 148 Tasman Road. This library operated until 1923 when the library committee offered the council control of the library and its assets. Five relocations followed in the next 11 years.

In 1933, Bryon Brown, a local entrepreneur and public benefactor, gifted the original HoaniTaipua housestead and land (on the site of the present Memorial Hall and Library), to the people of Ōtaki for the purpose of building a new library. Bryon Brown opened the new library premises in 1936.    

- Alexander Turnbull Library, General Assembly Library Collection (PAColl-0838)                                         

Hoani Taipua , ca. 1886

Byron Brown - Alexander Turnbull Library - Mary-Annette Hay Collection PA Coll-7083 ATL

Byron Brown, ca.1920 

The library building was extended in 1956, but by 1967 the Library Committee was once again calling for better accommodation. Some modifications happened but by 1980 the library was again considered cramped and lacking in general comfort. For several years the Ōtaki  Borough Council considered ideas and plans for a new library building.

HP 917  - Ōtaki Library 1981

HP 916  - Ōtaki Library 1981 

HP 916 & HP917 - Ōtaki Library 1981

Ōtaki Library c.2015

Under the new Kāpiti Coast District Council, a 1991 a report identified the need for urgent maintenance and upgrading of Ōtaki Library. A new purpose-built building opened in December 1998.

Paekākāriki Library

A small community library, run by volunteers, was established in Paekākāriki in 1991 in the Trading Post building, formerly the Post Office.

In 2011, the Council and the Paekākāriki Tennis Club worked together to adapt the tennis pavilion so that for ten hours each week it is transformed into a branch library.

Paekākāriki Library at the Tennis Club